Introducing a New Pet to your Current Pet(s)
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Pet Week
The Vet's Corner

Introducing a New Pet to your Current Pet(s)

by Wes Chang
Whether you’re considering adoption or fostering, it is important to safely socialize your new pet with your current pet(s). Here are some tips on how to best introduce a new animal to your current pet(s).

The Steps

  1. Pre-Pet Vet Check - Before you adopt or foster a new pet, have your dog or cat checked by your veterinarian. It’s important to uncover any hidden conditions such as heart or respiratory diseases, liver or kidney, hearing or visual loss, and painful arthritis before sharing your home with a puppy or kitten. By identifying these issues early, you can avoid complications from increased stimulation and physical activity. Talk to your vet about your plans and make sure you’re addressing any pain, understand your pet’s stamina and tolerances, and recognize how any sensory losses may affect interacting with a new pet. For example, an older cat with failing hearing may not be able to hear a somersaulting kitty approaching. It’s a good idea to provide them with a private, quiet space several hours a day, especially during the first few weeks.
  2. Puppy- and Kitten-Proof your Home – If you are looking to add a puppy or kitten to your household, this tip is for you! Exposed outlets need to be covered, power cords concealed, cabinets fastened with child safety locks, garbage cans secured, harmful cleaning supplies stored securely, toilets and exposed water containers closed, and all off-limits areas gated. Just because your older pets didn’t try to eat kitchen cleaner or break into the pantry doesn’t mean your new companion won’t.
  3. Separate Food and Water Stations – Fights over food and water bowls top the list of new pet quarrels. Each pet should have their own food and water bowls separated as far apart as practical, but at least 18” to 24” apart. For most dogs and cats, that distance is outside the “zone of ownership” and helps lessen the chance of mealtime clashes.
  4. Individual Toys – Sharing food, water, bedding, and toys can be a stretch for many older pets. Do everyone a favor and provide each pet with their own stuff from the start.
  5. Training Refresh – Brush up on basic commands such as sit, stay, and come before the big day. Your current pet will exert tremendous influence on a newcomer, so make sure they’re on their best behavior. Additionally, you’ll need to divert and grasp your pet’s attention so a refresher on “sit” and “come” is a great idea. Housetraining a puppy is much faster and more effective when a well-trained pet is helping teach.
  6. Safe Spaces – Create private rooms or spaces for both the existing and new pets. Everyone needs a break and time alone to rest, recuperate, and refresh. Crates, cat trees, rooms, or a simple cardboard box can provide a much-needed respite from frenetic fur balls.
  7. One Cat = 2 Litter Boxes – In general, for each household feline, you need one to two litterboxes. Once you get to three or more cats sharing the same space, you need even more litterboxes to avoid inappropriate eliminations. Litterboxes should be wide, low, open, and cleaned frequently.
  8. Pheromones – Dog or cat calming pheromones can be used in the house a week or two prior to introducing a new pet and throughout the first couple of months!

Good Luck!

Bringing a new pet into the home is exciting, stressful, fun, rewarding and so much more. Follow these steps to set yourself - and your pets! - up for a lifetime of success.

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